What You Need to Know About Handicapped Parking Laws in Florida

Published on: March 27, 2020

If you live in Florida and have a handicap that makes getting around difficult, then you know the importance of having handicapped parking. 

Handicap-reserved spaces allow for extra room for walkers or wheelchairs, and are close in proximity to the destination, be it a store or business, so people with disabilities do not need to walk as far to reach the doors. 

These reserved spaces have their own handicapped parking laws. Unsure about laws regarding handicapped parking in Florida? Here is the guide to everything you need to know. 

What are Handicapped Sign Requirements?

To be able to legally park in handicapped parking, you first must acquire a handicapped parking placard. But, how would you apply and qualify for one in Florida?

First, you need a valid Florida driver's license or a valid ID issued by the State of Florida. You can apply for your handicapped parking placard online, but you may need to visit a Florida DMV in person if applying for the first time. You’ll need to bring identifying paperwork, such as your Social Security number and birth certificate.  

You also need to have a certified physician fill out an evaluation form to prove you have a disability. The DMV office needs this special form completed to process your application. Once your physician fills out your form, bring it and your ID to your local DMV office and submit. 

Handicapped Parking Laws for Businesses

Due to the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and state laws, private businesses and public agencies must provide a certain number of available handicapped parking with proper signs and with ample size to the left or right of vehicles to allow for wheelchairs and other mobility devices. Only vehicles with handicapped placards or license plates are allowed to park here.

These handicapped parking laws for businesses are applicable to the rest of the country, not just Florida. The ADA guidelines were revised in 2010 to require new or upgraded parking lots to include more designated parking spaces for people with disabilities. 

Rules for Handicapped Spaces 

There are several uniform handicapped parking laws and requirements for parking spaces that apply for the entire country, not just Florida. 

ADA Wheelchair Accessible Parking Signs

All handicapped parking must be properly outfitted with accessible parking identification. The international symbol of accessibility, the blue sign with the white wheelchair figure, must be visible. Parking spaces that are van-accessible must have additional text to mark it specifically. 

These signs must be placed a certain height so they will not be hidden by parked vehicles or any other obstacles. They also must be visible for all drivers. 

Handicapped Parking Requirements

The ADA disabled parking laws state that any barriers to access, if possible, need to be removed from parking lots. Practically, ADA law mandates that handicapped parking leads to the shortest accessible route to a particular building or a pedestrian entrance. Handicapped parking should also be located closest to accessible entrances.

Wheelchair accessible parking requirements must be at least eight feet wide and have an adjacent aisle that is at least five feet wide. For spaces that are van-accessible spaces must be at least 11 feet wide. 

The minimum number of handicapped parking spots in an area depends on the size of the parking lot. ADA handicapped parking laws stipulate that for every 25 spaces, there must be at least one handicapped parking space. The number increases with the size of the parking lot. 

For lots with over 1,000 spaces, the law requires 20 accessible spots, plus one handicapped parking space for every 100 spots over 1000. For every six handicapped spaces, there must be at least one van-accessible space. Medical facilities must provide more handicapped parking spaces, up to 20 percent of the lot in some cases.

Can You Park Anywhere with a Handicap Placard?

If you apply and receive a handicapped placard, then you qualify for parking in wheelchair accessible parking. However, this does not mean you can park anywhere with a handicap placard. 

Handicapped parking laws are in place to protect people with disabilities and enable them easy access to buildings and public areas. However, if you park in a “no-parking zone” or a tow-zone, you will still be penalized despite having a handicapped placard.

Penalties For Parking in Handicapped Spaces

Handicapped parking laws protect people with disabilities and provide them with convenient and comfortable access to parking. Therefore, there are penalties for people who park in handicapped parking without a placard. Laws for handicapped parking spots state that it is illegal to park in handicapped parking without a handicapped permit. You cannot park in accessible parking by using someone else’s handicapped parking placard, unless they are also in the car with you. 

In Florida, anyone who uses a handicapped parking permit that does not belong to them can face being charged with a second-degree misdemeanor with handicapped parking tickets reaching $500 or up to 6 months in jail. If you are caught parking in a handicapped spot without proper permits, the fine is $250. 

Handicapped Parking Laws in Florida

Florida has “reciprocal recognition” agreements with every other state in the nation when it comes to handicapped permits. This means that your Florida handicapped permit will be applicable in all other states as well. 

The reverse is also true; if you have a valid Massachusetts handicap parking permit, it will be accepted in Florida also. So, if you’re just vacationing in Florida, you don’t have to get a state-specific handicap tag while you’re here.

ADA handicapped parking laws apply to the entire nation, but Florida has a few extra of its own. People with handicapped parking permits are able to part at turnstile meters for free, although there is a new time restriction of a four-hour maximum. 

Hopefully, this guide helps you with any questions you may have about handicapped parking laws in Florida. For more help and advice on this and other disability topics in the Sunshine State, please contact Disability Experts of Florida.

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